A Middletown business and public safety employees have taken steps to assure a 5-year-old boy who allegedly was beaten and then died last week receives a proper visitation.
The Middletown firefighters union and the Fraternal Order of Police are hosting a luncheon for first responders and family members of the boy and a local funeral home is donating about $2,000 worth of services and merchandise in the wake of the tragedy, said Pastor Lamar Ferrell, police and fire chaplain.
The boy, Alexander Stephens, of Licking County, died April 29 after he allegedly was beaten by his mother and her friend while they were staying in a tent near the Great Miami River, police said.
His 6-year-old brother, Damyan, also was injured, though his injuries don’t appear to be life-threatening, police said.
A visitation for Alexander is set for 10 to 11 a.m. Thursday at Baker-Stevens-Parramore Funeral Home, 1500 Manchester Ave. A celebration of life service will take place beginning at 11 a.m. with Ferrell officiating.
Ferrell said the luncheon at fire station headquarters will be free and open to Alexander’s family and those who cared for him, including Middletown police and firefighters and the medical staffs at Atrium Medical Center and Cincinnati Children’s Liberty Campus.
Though Alexander lived in the Middletown area for only a few days, Ferrell said it was important to “bless him and not treat him as a stranger.”
Ferrell also hopes the visitation provides closure for the first responders, many who became emotional after seeing Alexander’s severe injuries when they were called to the Parkway Inn on Verity Parkway in Middletown.
A woman in the room called 911 and told dispatchers that Alexander had stopped breathing. When police officers and firefighters arrived, they treated Alexander who was badly beaten and bruised, police said.
“They were very, very affected,” Ferrell said of the first responders. “They need to pay their respects. The last hands to touch that boy were hands of compassion. The last eyes were eyes of love.”
He said the funeral home is offering its services at no cost to the family. He contacted Brad Bryant, one of the funeral directors and a member of Berachah Church, where Ferrell serves as pastor. Bryant said donating about $2,000 in services and merchandise was “the right thing to do.”
Bryant said Thursday’s service is important because “after such a brutal event, it’s nice to have a peaceful end to it.”
The boys’ mother, Theresa Hawkins-Stephens, 26, was charged with murder, two counts of felonious assault and two counts of endangering children. Her friend, Rachael Bostian, 29, also was charged with the same offenses.
Bond for both women was set last week at $1 million.
Charges of felonious assault and child endangering remained the same against the third woman accused in the alleged attacks — Ramona Bostian, 56. Her bond was set at $500,000.
According to police, the women came from Licking County to Middletown looking for work.
On Friday, Alexander will be buried at Glen Rest Memorial Estate in Reynoldsburg, Ohio.
Alexander is survived by his dad, Nicholas; his brother; grandparents, Michael and Adrianna Stephens, of all Reynoldsburg; Leann Hawkins and Terry Hawkins of Buckeye Lake; great-grandparents, Larry and Donna Haught of Thornville and Sharon and Allen Bartholic of Reynoldsburg; great-great-grandparents, Bill and Nancy Bickel of Clearwater, Fla.
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